Respighi’s La campana sommersa is interesting in that it’s one of comparatively few post-Puccini Italian operas to get some sort of traction. It premiered in Hamburg in 1927 and saw quite a few productions between then and 1939 including one at the Met in 1929. Then it pretty much descended into obscurity before being revived in 2016 by a co-pro between Teatro Lirico di Cagliari (where the recording reviewed here was made) and the revived (more or less) NYCO (which used the Cagliari orchestra and chorus but American soloists). It’s based on a symbolist poem by German poet Gerhart Hauptmann and concerns a bell; which has been hoofed into a lake by fauns, a master bell maker who thinks he is the pagan god Balder, a water sprite, Rautendelein, and assorted mortals, elves, witches, fauns and so on. As with all these works no-one lives happily ever after.
So today’s New York Times has an article apparently confirming the relaunch of New York City Opera. On the face of it, good news, if it indeed happens. That said, apparently the plan is to open with a production of Tosca at Lincoln Center. As Micaela at Likely Impossibilitieshas shown 30% of Met performances this season are of works by Puccini. Is more Puccini, probably presented in a highly traditional way, what the New York, indeed the North American, opera scene really needs? One would say at least it was creating work for singers but when the boss of the new outfit was last seen running a company that was sued for not paying its musicians I’m not even sure about that! Not so much resurrection as the undead walking?
Jennifer Rivera has a very interesting interview with Roy Niederhoffer who is leading a project to put NYCO back in business. On the fsace of it, all the necessary elements seem to be there. Full interview.
I think I’m seeing two trends in the world of opera companies right now. On the one hand companies are closing shop, more or less messily. Opera Hamilton, New York City Opera and, now, San Diego Opera are all relatively high profile closures. On the other hand, with far less fanfare, there are smaller, more innovative companies springing up all over the place. Some prosper, some don’t. Is there a common theme? I can see a few. Rigidity versus flexibility seems to be one theme. Having what marketeers call a Unique Value Proposition (or not) is another.